This book discusses a phenomenon on which most people have had no opportunity to obtain clear and objective information.
Sex between adults and children is subject to one of the strongest taboos in Western society. When it does take place it is usually carried out in the utmost secrecy.
Those who are sexually attracted to children are called paedophiles, or child-lovers, or sometimes "child molesters". The young people involved are usually of an age just before to just after puberty.
In this present volume we have tried to discuss as many aspects, both positive and negative, of the phenomenon of paedophilia as possible, by means of interviews and studies. We have not allowed our personal feelings and moral conceptions about the phenomenon to intrude; rather, we have allowed people to speak for themselves: children, parents and paedophiles. We leave it up to the reader to form his or her own opinions. With respect to the interviews, we recorded them as accurately as possible and those interviewed were subsequently given the opportunity to approve of our text. Naturally, we have changed all names and other particulars that could identify the children or their adult lovers.
We have given less importance to the - fortunately rare - examples of sexual molestation or violence against children, for they are described in depth elsewhere. To make a comparison possible we nevertheless thought it necessary to include one case of sexual molestation (interview with Linda).
Having studied the phenomenon of paedophilia from many points of view, we came to the conclusion that relations of mutual love, if allowed to develop freely, have an enriching influence on children, furthering their development. Sexual molestation, on the other hand, with its cynicism and lack of love, may, under certain circumstances, inflict irreparable harm upon the child's emotional life.
The aim of this volume is to try to induce parents, teachers, psychologists, judges and other authorities to listen more closely to what the individual children have to say; to what they delight in, and to what is felt by them to be disgusting.
Just as important, we wish to combat the out-dated norms and moral conceptions that have made all too many children suffer from feelings of shame and guilt about their own sexual behaviour, whether it be masturbation or sexual activities involving other children or adults.
We wish to thank the sexologists Bent Petersen and Preben Hertoft, as well as the lawyers Manfred Petersen and F.A. Wehner for their contributions, the criminologist Berl Kutchinsky for his expert assistance, and the author Erik Thygesen for his help in editing this book. And we are grateful to all the unnamed children, paedophiles and parents who trusted us and talked to us openly about their experiences and their views. On the whole we were met with an unbelievable welcome everywhere, with one single exception: in spite of persistent and repeated attempts, it proved impossible to find even one police officer willing to talk about his or her experiences with what they call "sexual delinquency with minors". This reticence on the part of the police was partly due to their fear of criticism, but it is to be regretted that the reader is thus deprived of this one very important perspective.
- The Editors